Students in Architecture Q&A: Izak Christofides

What’s it like for students studying Architecture today?
What do students look for when approaching practice placements?

TODD Architects are celebrating our vital student team members, asking them about their experiences, personal highlights and what they essentially look for in a practice.

Our second Q&A is with Part 1 Architectural Assistant Izak. He shares his insights and experiences working in our London studio and he discusses the challenges and rewards which come with the territory, along with offering some valuable advice.


What initially inspired you to study architecture Izak?

What initially inspired me to study Architecture is to have the opportunity in my lifetime to change the environment we live in for the better, however cliché it may sound. I want an opportunity to design and create spaces that work better for people and allow a level of interaction with a building that isn’t often seen.


Since starting at TODD Architects, what projects are you working on and with which team(s)? 

Since starting at TODD Architects, I have been based in the London office with two projects in the Greater London area. The first is in Waltham Cross and is focusing on adding a residential block above an existing multi-storey car park. The second is a Hotel Tower project on Edgware Road.


Where do you look for your design inspiration?

For design inspiration I look everywhere, especially when I’m walking around in the city. I also get a lot of inspiration through my social media with apps like Pinterest and Instagram, allowing me to see things from all over the world right in my hand.


Are there any specific architects whose work has inspired you?

There are a couple of Architects who have inspired me. The first is Peter Zumthor and they way that he uses people and context as a big driver in his design. For him the use of the senses is important in what people see, hear and feel – allowing him to design a feeling of a building, not just an aesthetic. Another set of Architects that have inspired me are Fabrizio Barozzi and Alberto Veiga. I admire the way in which they use delicate tones and texture to create inviting spaces that are comfortable and almost feel natural. It’s these spaces where people enjoy spending time.


If you had the opportunity (and freedom of a limitless budget) to create a radical and visionary structure, what would you design, why and where?

Well, the future seems to be in skyscrapers with space at a premium, so I would design something tall, but I feel where similar structures lack today is in creating a space that feels natural and not so clinical. I’d design something that had to the way people interacted with the space at the forefront along with the way it grows into its environment close behind. As to where I would design, it would be London without a doubt. It’s where I have been raised and so it’s a place I enjoy spending time in and am very comfortable in.


What are the biggest challenges and the most rewarding elements of your work so far?

So far, my biggest challenge has been starting to understand just how big the knowledge base of an Architect must be even from tiny little things to very important ones e.g. railing heights, hand rail circumferences, fire safety, flood risks and the list goes on…

The most rewarding element has to be coming up with a solution to a problem, sometimes it is simple and sometimes it takes day but it’s always gratifying.


Apart from project scope and reputation, what would be high up on your list of priorities when choosing to work for a specific practice?

The social aspect for me is important as I like to think I am quite a social person! I also think that getting a good work/life balance is important as getting it wrong can really affect you both mentally and physically if you overwork yourself.


Are there any specialized areas or sectors you would like to gain experience in?

I’ve always been fixated on huge civil projects, things like stadia and airports so being on a project with one of those would be ideal.


Would you have any team-based activity, trip or workshop suggestions you would like to see happen?

Nothing comes to mind that we aren’t already doing. I personally would enjoy something like a big sports day… I’m not sure how keen any others would be though!


What words of advice would you offer anyone starting out to study architecture today?

Be very, very determined and keep at it. Sometimes studying Architecture is amazing and sometimes it’s awful when you haven’t eaten or slept for a day…

Just be sure it’s what you want to do before committing wholly and make sure to look after yourself.

A bad crit is NOT the end of the world!


What’s next for you, what are your future plans?

After I finish my year out I intend to continue to a Masters, whether that be in Belfast or London – I am not sure yet. Post accreditation I plan to work somewhere which allows me to grow a fantastic knowledge base and then go off into the world and design with thought.